Nutritional Geometry 3: Ketosis— benefits & risks of oil-rich diets

The advantage of a low-carb diet is that it minimizes insulin spikes that can contribute to loss of insulin sensitivity=metabolic syndrome. The advantage of a low-protein diet is that it offers some of the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction, and is associated with lower all-cause mortality. Can the two be combined? The low-protein, low-carb diet is by definition a high-fat diet. High fat diets are terrible for mice, but maybe they’re good for people. For more than a century, many people have found a high-fat diet is a path toward weight loss. Just in the last few years, there is a lot of salesmanship based on a little science that suggests a ketogenic diet can be healthy for the brain.

Does a high-fat diet induce ketosis? Is it practical? Is there a price to pay for too much oil?

This blog edition also features a description of my personal eating habits, as a curious example rather than a universal prescription.

There are but three macronutrient classes, so the only way to have a low-protein, low-carb diet is to eat a lot of fats. The low-carb diet has at least a 150-year history.

One of the first registries on low-carbohydrate diets was in 1860 when English casket maker William Banting was prompted to lose weight and decided to write “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public”, which aimed to completely avoid starch and sugar. Banting lost 45 pounds in a few weeks (with additional weight loss over several months) on a diet composed by meat (generally mutton or beef – plus poultry and fish), two very small (1 ounce) portions a day of rusk or dry toast, tea (with no sugar or milk), and a 2-4 drinks of dry wine or port a day as spelled out in his own writings. Thus, the Banting diet became a very well known method during that period of the 19th century, promoted also for weight loss and diabetes control [Wikipedia].

Diets comprising 80-90% fat have a remarkable benefit for people who suffer epileptic seizures. Known generically as ketogenic diets, they have been recommended by extension for other neurological disorders, and, of course, for diabetes (types 1 and 2). There is some evidence that low-carb diets protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. When sugar is not available, the body turns to fat as a fuel, and converts fat to three related biochemical forms (called ketone bodies) as a circulating intermediary. Cancer cells, however, can’t use ketones, so cancer also responds to a ketogenic diet (and even better to fasting). But if you don’t have a life-threatening disease and you don’t happen to be an Inuit, a diet that is 80% fat may feel extreme. It takes a lot of motivation to stick to a ketogenic diet, and for people who are basically well, the promised benefits are not commensurate with the discipline. All of the evidence for benefit in healthy individuals is theoretical, based on biochemistry.

Studies of lab mice consistently show that a high fat diet leads to shorter life span, compared to carb- or protein-based diets. The reason for this seems to be that fat nurtures a kind of intestinal flora that excite an immune response called endotoxicity. It’s the elevated inflammation that shortens lifespan. Whether this response is essential to high-fat diets or whether it is exacerbated by refined carbohydrates in the mouse chow, whether endotoxicity is also induced in humans on a high-fat diet–all these subjects are vigorously debated. The one clear message is that fiber is an antidote, so that anyone considering a high-fat diet should be doubling up on dietary fiber.


A Tasty, Satisfying Fat-based Vegan Diet

Think avocado salads and fried green vegetables with a bit of tofu. Think coconut and walnuts and greens and more greens. Here are some recipes from the incomparable Enid Kassner. All are guaranteed delicious, and all have 70-75% of calories from fat, with the residual comprising various mixtures of carb and protein.

1. Saag Tofu

8 oz spinach (washed and roughly chopped)
5 oz fresh tomato, chopped
6 oz extra firm tofu
1.5 oz coconut oil (3T)
Grated fresh ginger, chopped garlic, garam masala
(Indian spice mixture)
Press extra liquid from tofu using a towel. Cut into cubes, sprinkle with salt, and microwave about 3-4 minutes. Set aside. Heat oil and add ginger, garlic, and spinach. Stir frequently as spinach cooks and reduces in volume. Add chopped tomato and cook lightly, adding tofu, salt and garam masala to taste.


2. Fried Cauliflower with Tofu and Cashews

9 oz cauliflower florets
2.5 oz sweet red pepper, sliced
2T + 1t peanut oil
Scant oz chopped roasted cashews
4 oz extra firm tofu

Press extra liquid from tofu using a towel. Cut into cubes, sprinkle with salt, and microwave about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oil and cook vegetables, stirring frequently, adding garlilc, if desired. Add tofu and nuts, salting to taste.


3. Marinated Vegetables

5.5 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 oz chopped cucumber
4 oz green beans, chopped and lightly boiled (about 3-4 minutes)
.5 oz finely chopped sweet onion
2 oz sliced black olives
1.25 oz toasted almonds, sliced or chopped
1.5 oz olive oil (3T)
1 oz vinegar (2T)

Combine olives and vegetables and marinate in oil and vinegar, adding salt and pepper to taste. Can also add dried herbs, such as oregano, basil, or thyme. Let sit several hours at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator. Sprinkle with nuts when ready to eat.

A Bit of Biochem

Ketones are carbon chain molecules with an oxygen double-bonded to a carbon (C=O) somewhere in the middle. Beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is best-known of three “ketone bodies” that circulate in the blood. It is burned as fuel, but it is also a signal molecule “BHB has been found to act as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor and to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) levels and TrkB signaling in the hippocampus.” [ref] (BHB signals growth of new neurons and affects gene expression in unknown, complex but probably good ways, since BHB is associated with fasting and exercise.)

When the body burns ketones instead of glucose, less oxygen is needed. Theoretically, in intense aerobic exercise, when the body is limited by how fast oxygen can be pumped through the lungs and into the blood, there ought to be a slight benefit in power when the body is in ketosis mode. One wonky self-experimenter working with the lab of Dominic D’Agostino at U of S Florida claims to have measured and confirmed this effect in himself.


Eat Ketones?

If much of the benefit of a low-carb diet comes from the body’s adaptation via ketosis, why not cut out the middleman and just eat ketones? Once again, the miracle of capitalism has advanced ahead of the plodding pace of epidemiological science. There are several products to choose from. Raspberry ketones seem to be worthless. Ketones are cheap to manufacture, but you need a large quantity because it’s a food, not a supplement, and ketones taste awful. (Why should sugar taste so good when it’s so bad for us, and why should ketones taste so bad? Maybe because evolution is keenly concerned with our short-term survival, but is ambivalent about prolonging our lives.) Medium-chain triglycerides as found in coconut oil and butter seem to be a platable way to boost the benefits of a ketogenic diet, including weigh loss.

D’Agostino is researching and developing palatable ketone supplements.

This summer, Andrew Murray and colleagues at Oxford University reported an experiment in which mice had a ketone supplement (not BHB) added to their chow, and they showed both faster learning and greater aerobic capacity [pre-pub ref].


Modified Atkins Diet

Dom D’Agostino is the king of ketogenic research, and for himself he has chosen a Modified Atkins Diet accompanied by ketogenic substitutes, which offers much of the same benefit as a ketogenic diet. The original Atkins diet was heavy on meat and fish. The Modified Atkins Diet developed at Johns Hopkins for epilepsy has less protein, 65% fat and ultra-low carbohydrates (~5%) but more flexible than the ketogenic diet.

There are a range of generic Atkins diet spinoffs, including some that have less or zero meat. (I keep coming back to vegetarian options not just because my inclination is in this direction, but because there is good evidence for a longevity benefit. I also respect that other bodies make other choices.) All the “modified” versions introduce a lot more green vegetables, because their fiber and nutrients add a lot of value, and because the diet is much more varied and platable with vegetables. Some Atkins versions allow limited fruit. Atkins-spinoff diets tends to have less protein than the original and 50-60% fat, with limited carbohydrates, but more than the strict 5% prescribed for epilepsy by the Hopkins docs.


My diet

People ask how I eat, and I’m happy to tell them, but I make clear this is not a recommendation. Diets are personalized. At one level, there’s what you can live with and feels good to you; at a deeper level, you can experiment with different diets, see how your weight and your energy level and your emotional and intellectual life respond; at a deeper level yet, sensitize yourself to your body’s signals with yoga or biofeedback or meditation techniques, and perhaps your body will let you know what it wants.

Fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, soy and other beans are the mainstay of what I live on. In addition to fat from nuts, I dress salads generously and stir-fry my vegetables in oil. I have been vegetarian since 1973. Lately, my diet is close to vegan, ultra-high fiber, low carb, relatively high in protein. (No vegetarian diet can be high-protein by Atkins standards.) Fish oil capsules are my one departure from strict vegetarianism. I start the day with a big bowl of raw wheat bran (the only wheat that I eat), made palatable with fruit and soymilk, sometimes blended in a smoothie.

(I’m 67 and exercise frequently and in diverse ways. If I were younger or less active, I would eat less protein.)

I eat no grains or potatoes: no rice, wheat, pastries, pasta, or cereals. Other starches occasionally: carrots, winter squash, beets, parsnips. I eat fruit liberally. I will also occasionally savor a square of chocolate or a spoonful of ice cream as a special treat. I’ll stop what I’m doing and roll it around in my mouth, extending and savoring the experience. An absolute proscription of grains helps me say no to cookies and cakes.

I confine eating to 12 hours each day. I fast one day a week, about 32 hours from Wed evening to Friday morning. I do longer fasts 2 or 3 times a year, and Longo semi-fasts another 4 or 5 times a year.

While I’m in personal mode, I’ll add a note on flatulence. What about all that fiber and beans? The truth is that I’ve had a gassy metabolism my entire life, especially so when I was growing up on a typical American diet of meat-and-potatoes, milk and cookies. In the last 10 years, my body has made a transition to a less prodigious level of flatulence, and I don’t know why–but this has been despite the beans and the wheat bran. (I still can’t eat black turtle beans, though I’d like to.)


The Bototm Line (concluding three long blogs on nutrition)

If we are what we eat, maybe the surprising thing is that what we eat makes so little difference that it requires human studies with tens of thousands of participants to be able to detect an effect of diet on lifespan. Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed. Pandas won’t eat anything but bamboo. There are hundreds of species of wasp, each co-evolved to drink nectar from only a single species of fig flower. But we humans are omnivores, and our bodies are geniuses of homeostasis, able to stay pretty well on track no matter what we put into them. The differences in epidemiological studies amount to a few percent of lifespan, even as test diets are varied all over the map. Native Americans of the Paiute tribe eat grasshoppers, and Inuits eat blubber; on the Trobriand Islands they eat yams, Amazon tribes eat fruit, while the Masai eat a mixture of ox blood and milk. Yet the similarities in their life trajectories overwhelm the differences.

43 thoughts on “Nutritional Geometry 3: Ketosis— benefits & risks of oil-rich diets

  1. Dr. D’Agostino is a dear friend and was part f my PhD committee. His work inspired my research in longevity with the ketone body, beta-hydroxubutyrate. It worked in C. elegans through many of the same pathways that calorie restriction work through.
    A few months before graduation, I was diagnosed with DCIS and was recommended to have a lumpectomy and radiation. Knowing what I do about the recurrence rates after radiation, I decided to go on a full blown ketogenic diet. I also started taking low dose Metformin. 2 months ago I finally got some good news: the lump is gone (follow ups in order).
    Now, here’s the deal, lumps come and go in the human body. Our immune system does work sometimes and DCIS has a history of vanishing on its own without treatment. So, I can’t say it was the diet or even the Metformin, but I’m now a ketogenic vegetarian and I doubt I’ll ever go back to my old eating habits.

    Although I stand by Dominic and support his claims, like you said, this diet is not for everyone. The number 1 best thing anyone can do is drop as much sugar from their diet as possible and smile more.

  2. Interesting post, thank you. I think many of us are seeking a single answer to what are in reality numerous questions.

    I have a few of my own! I have Marty Kendall’s .pdf on Optimising Nutrition and according to his painstaking calculations, legumes are fairly insulinogenic and therefore not so good for ketosis. I’m curious what leads you to think that they are good in the diet you suggest?

    Also, tofu is still controversial for well known reasons to do with hormones and isoflavones; you clearly think they are ok and I wondered if you’d share your thoughts? Apologies if this is elsewhere on your site.

    Also, a mistake many people make (I made!) in eating low carb is to think that in order to lose weight we have to eat loads of fat. What I have learned is that a) if losing weight you want the fat part to come from your oen stored fat so increasing fat won’t help, except in the initial adaption stage. Once enough weight is lost, the diet will have a high proportion of fat but, again, it isn’t necessary to add loads of extra fat to meals. Just don’t be concerned about what fat is naturally in food.

    Kind regards

    • Thank you, Norma –
      I have eaten a lot of tofu out of convenience in the past, but I agree that phytoestrogens are a good reason not to overdo it. One thing that has come out of this month-long exercise in diet research for me is that I get more protein than I need, and substituting almond milk for soy milk, nuts and beans for tofu would be a good adjustment.
      Probably the best thing about eating extra fat is that it stays with you and keeps you from foraging for snacks between meals. As usual, this applies to some people but not others.
      – JJM

      • My experience is that it’s ketosis rather than the fat that stops me feeling hungry. I realise one leads to the other perhaps but for me it’s eating very low carbs rather than eating a lot of fat that has made the difference. Also, though I noticed reduced appetite and no cravings very early on, I have realised that it has taken me a good year fully to adjust mentally and physically.

        I use erythritol as a sweetener, which also helps with oral bacteria (I produce v little saliva).

        Finally I found that an ultra high dose 6 day probiotic (I assume you won’t want me to give the name!) made a phenomenal difference for the better. I’m really interested -who isn’t now!- in the effect of healthy microbiota.

        Thanks for your postings.

        • Norma –
          I don’t promote any brand names, and have no affiliation with any product or service for sale. However, I have no objection to your mentioning a brand name product in this space. I trust readers to understand that one person’s positive experience may be a reason to experiment with a product to see if it works for them, too.
          – Josh

          • Ok, well the one I use is Elixa, which is v high dose and is a 6 day course . Really strange but my appetite reduced considerably as the first course finished. This gave me the impression that I’d been feeding unwanted aspects of my microbiome rather than my actual body. I’ve read since that other people experience this but at the top me it was a welcome surprise. I repeat the course about 3 times a year because I do take occasional anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin plus I’m not getting any younger, so I think it won’t do any harm and probably does some good. Plus the appetite business impressed me enormously.

            Thanks for your thoughts on the plant based diet and also on Valter Longo’s restricted calory regime. I eat a little fish and dairy, otherwise it’s plants though there is no way I can eat enough to raise my fibre intake significantly. I want dairy for the CLA.

            Best wishes


    1) JM said: “Theoretically, in intense aerobic exercise, when the body is limited by how fast oxygen can be pumped through the lungs and into the blood”
    GB answer: “During aerobic exercise what limits the output is not the respiratory, but the circulatory system”

    2) JM “If we are what we eat”…
    GB: That´s a nice title (look into PubMed) of a very good old paper showing, for the first time, that bacterial DNA is inserted into the nuclear DNA of hepatocyte liver cells of a rodent. That´s OK to me.
    In fact we have found that mtDNA fragments increase inside nuclear DNA with age in rats (Caro et al., Mitochondrion. 10:479-486 (2010) and mice, and that the increase in middle aged mice (as well as the increase in mitochondrial ROS production –mitROSp- and the increase in lipofuscin-partially, and the decrease in autophagocytosis) is reversed by 100% back to young levels! after treating the animals with rapamycin (the only known drug that consistently increases longevity) for only 7 weeks! (Martinez-Cisuelo et al. Experimental Gerontology 83:130-138, 2016). Cheng and Ivessa in USA simultaneously have found the same in yeast (Cheng and Ivessa ,Aging Cell, Doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2010.00607.x, pp.1-10, 2010) and they have further demonstrated that those fragments shorten chronological life span (Cheng and Ivessa, Eur. J. Cell Biol. 91:782-88).

    But we are not exactly “what we eat” in the sense that you mention Josh, just because, as you correctly concluded, our bodies are excellent “homeostatic” (responsive to environment I would say, also at Nutrigenomics level) machines (and no better than those of rats or other mammals, by the way, no better at ALL). In other words, for instance, DR (what you eat) goes down to change hormones, insulin/IGF1 then to cells (cell membrane receptors like IR) to cytoplasmic signaling proteins like mTOR, AMPK S6K IP3K etc. then to nucleus TFs like FOXO or TFEB in the nucleus to modify gene expression in a way PROGRAMMED IN THE NUCLEUS AND SPECIFIC OF EACH TISSUE. THE RESPONSE (PROGRAMMED TO RESPONS IN A SPECIFIC WAY TO FOOD) is the variation in expression (mRNAs) of hundreds of genes (some up some down) and finally, after SEPCIFIC protein synthesis variations decrease mitROSproduction at complex I, and increase autophagocytosys plus other unknown likely effectors of aging and then the animal has an increased longevity. Thus, what WE ARE is “what we WERE before DR plus the changes elicited by DR on our Pro-Aging Program (PAP) lying in the cell nucleus”. We are not empty laboratory flasks. We are living things, with compartments, genes and many many regulations. So, this is why the right answer to “what should we eat”? is so complex and there is no agreement…..

    We must understand well the nuclear PAP responses to the different amounts and kinds of foods before we know what “we should eat”. We are not “what we eat” because we are living things which, in addition to normal homeostasis, adjust their body compositions and functions to changes in the environment, including gene based responses (nutrigenomics in the case of food).

    By the way some DR effects bypass the nucleus and go directly to mitochondrial ROS (e.g.: the reverse of DR, eating AL: more food –more TCA substrates like glutamate, and more pyruvate in matrix, more NADH-more complex I electronic reduction of the ROS generator-more mitROS production-more mtDNA fragments go to the nucleus-more aging rate.

    3) JM: “The differences in epidemiological studies amount to a few percent of lifespan”. GB: I absolutely agree with this Josh, and it is most important to disseminate this reality, this concept to peole in general. Another likely reason why this is so is that there can be multiple COMPENSATIONS among things that different people eat at different cultures and countries. Eg. the “French paradox”: they eat a lot of fat butter, pig hands and head, “foie” from liver full of fat, etc. but they also drink lots of wine. And wine has many good properties it seems, but NOT due to antioxidants as people erroneously believe but cardiologists say, to alcohol itself which is anti-inflammatory, and perhaps anticoagulant…etcetera. That is why it is healthy to drink 2 glasses of wine per day men (1 in women). The TOTAL mortality of people that does that seems to be smaller than that of those that do not drink at all, and higher (be careful!) that that of those that drink more than those 1-2 glasses. But people that drink the same amount (35gr males, or 17,5 grams females) of alcohol in other forms different from wine like spirits, beer etc, get the same benefit, so it is NOT the antioxidants (again…).
    Ok, French take a lot of fat in their diet but also a lot of wine, and still they are normally nº 2 in longevity worldwide after the Japanese….. Another example would be the Argentineans, that take a lot of meat (and red meat!) and do not seem to have substantially have higher mortality than other nations of similar degree of development, in spite of their high protein consumption (protein restriction increases longevity: methionine is the signal to the PAP to get that longevity response; Humans respond to PR same as rats, see Luigi Fontana work in DR human volunteers at USA). Why Argentineans do not die more in spite of their high red meat consumption (I assume that)? I do not know but, I noticed at Buenos Aires that they also produce high amounts of quality wine and drink it…. Etc Etcetera other kinds of compensations among good and bad habits must exist in different cultures (USA has a lot of colon caner but less esophagus cancer than Japanese, and when the Japanese immigrated to USA their rates of esophagus-high and colon-low cancer reverse to be similar of those typical of USA…so, food, environment etc of course changes things a lot but there is compensation among kinds of illnesses too like on this well known example.

    Finally Josh, I agree that diets are PERSONALL.
    In spite of all that I sai above, My diet? The so called “prudent diet” (low in proteins and fats and rich in fruits and vegetables including COMPLEX low glycemic index carbohydrates (so, nothing new, well known). Rice not so bad, Coke or sugar rich refreshments terrible thing (at home my wife and I call sugar “death”: do you want a little more “death” on your coffee dear, says she, and I say “yes thanks dear” although I perfectly know that it is bad for me -as individual-!, because I do not like the bitter taste of coffee).
    But for sure I will never take a diet 45% fat (Longo). The most important for me as I told you this summer is not to live or to die (even die today! Does not matter to me AT ALL), because finally I know that my dying is GOOD (for the group!, you MUST agree on that…). What matters to me (please note that this applies to me ONLY! I do not recommend it to any others) is not WHEN to die, but HOW to die. I have seen dying during 3 terrible very long years the person that I loved most on this EARTH: Dori Nuñez Villuendas, who was my wife and loved me so much during 30 years of happy marriage (almost as much as alpha-proteobacteria loved Archea 2.000 million years ago). She, Dori, dying from cancer without remedy….(no one knew how to cure: they lie on TV saying that they “cure” 50% of colon cancers, big LIE, they cure no one once cancer entered the “internal milieu” They, us, are ignorant on how to cure that terrible disease. Dori dying in spite of the strenuous efforts of wonderful Spanish social security doctors (for free!, not like the selfish system that you have up there at USA; here we do not allow private companies to make business with our relatives, friends and co-Spaniard citizens, we will NEVER allow them to change health care into dirty business! We do not ALLOW people to make business with health).

    In spite of all the efforts of the doctors (I know that they did all they could , all they knew), she finally died after 3 years of almost continuous chemotherapy and 3 major surgeries…., Because dirty pharmaceutical companies are constructing absurd “specific they say” proteins used in huge cost chemotherapies that are draining the resources of our social SECURITY SYSTEMS… and CAN NOT WORK because proteins are too large compounds and can not diffuse and cross membranes in huge tumors to get to the right place (again a site-specific problem, like mitochondrial-induced aging…). Because such proteins like the cheating with the protein drug called “cetuximab” (just one example) was published (large study in around 500.000 people cancer and placebo) to increase cancer patients survival by 25% (which would be at best six more months…) and two years after that another large study showed that cetuximab had no effect at all! on survival of cancer metastatic patients ¿?¿? What is this? Sci. research or cheating people and making business and millions of profit? (My wife was counseled to take cetuximab, just when the 2nd study was still not published and….what did she got? ZERO EFFECT…)

    So Josh, my point is a very simple and a common one here. Since I must die (like everybody else), I prefer, absolutely, NOT TO DIE FROM CANCER (I have already seen what it is what the oncologists do with solid tumor metastatic cancer patients, and I am not interested AT ALL in that)… I will be extremely happy dying from ventricular fibrillation (it would be a wonderful thing) or similar thing, quick enough, even if this shortens what rest of my life by a few years.

    4) Ketone bodies…um. I am no expert but I do know that they are acid compounds. In fact ketosis is a problem in children that capricious for badly raised by their parents, do not eat the regular food offered to them because they took some chocolate hidden from the parents etcetera so halitosis in the breath. Decreasing pH is strongly dangerous. Normal blood pH is 7.4. But in humans only pH 7.0 is already lethal (you enter coma and die at that pH) and raising to pH 8.0 you die from epileptic convulsions. This is so because H+ have strong effects of the flow of ions (Na+-K+ etc) responsible for neuron action potentials (more H+ concentration depresses excitability at SNC and the reverse). I do not know how much blood pH would change taking such diet high in ketone bodies (I never heard of eating most food from ketone bodies, sounds extravagant to me, sorry Josh). And of course a diet large in fat (I suppose) in principle would also raise ketone bodies? As far as I am aware ketone bodies are an emergency solution when there is no glucose for the brain (neurons only can obtain energy burning glucose, or ketone bodies if there is no glucose enough available). But this does not mean that ketone bodies are good. GLUCOSE IS GOOD JOSH! Please remember glucose that is good because it kills us “on a schedule” (as you use to say). Because aging is GOOD (FOR THE GROUP, OF COURSE!)





    • Thank you, Peter. Most of the links had an extra double quote in the html. Chalk it up to artifacts and bugs in the software we rely on everyday.

      Imagine if the human were built the way almost all software is built, so fragile that a single character out of place always destroys a function, and occasionally is fatal to the whole mechanism…When will we learn to build software with the redundancy and homeostatic protections of a living cell?

      – Josh

    • I thik we like candies because glucose is the origin of all our biochemical metabolism. This because glycolysis (anaerobic) is much older than Krebs cycle et ceters and among the esrlier metabolisms back 2.000 million years ago when there was not oxygen on the atmosfere. And because all things that age us faster are things “good” for us. Glucose is most necessary in the body. And the brain feeds almost exclusively on glucose (or ketone bodies). And glucose- insulin is “good” to us because it helps us to age faster. Because aging is good for the group. And we are part of such group. Much the same as apoptosis is good for a damaged cell in our body if its elimination avoids cancer to the body. Because a single cell of your body matters almost nothing being part of such large group ss your body is. You (the group of millions and millions of cells living together) are much more important than one single cell of your own body (importance zero).
      Tha is why all the things that accelerate aging are things “good” to us:

      Oxygen (via mitochondrial ROS generation), iron (via ROS), glucose-insulin, Methionine-protein, Food, mTOR-growing, GH- growing. Many of these act as signals (not as metabolites) to the aging program lying on the cell nucleus that in turn reacts:

      A) increasing mitROS production cutting mtDNA in fragments that enter the nucleus and again cause pro-aging changes perhaps helped by a TE at centromeres (the door of entry of the fragments to the nucleus..
      B) Decreasing autofagocytosis so that we can age faster..

      You see aging is GOOD for us ( the group). And aging increases DIVERSITY speeding up evolutionary rate. That’s why all the “good” things above (glucose et cetera) kill us on a schedule. Because it id very GOOD TO DIE (for the human group, and most important, for the largest group on EARTH: the single SPECIES of our planet: LIFE

  4. Thought this study on regular consumption of raw (uncooked) olive oil might interest your readers Josh. It doesn’t have to be extra virgin olive oil.
    Results show improved heart health and other benefits. It’s a well conducted study.

    It might explain in part why the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial.

    I’ve started sprinkling my veggies with olive oil, crushed nuts and salt and pepper. Delicious.

    • It must be “virgin”!. No need of “extra”! (only if you are a Gourmet). But it the etiquette does not say “virgin” it is not olive oil. It is the lampante” oil from the bone and skin of olives. Not the diret olive juice that virgin olive oil is (that is the good one).
      Better no to fry, but if you do it, use allways the virgin, never the not virgin (lampante). Virgin resists better the 200 degrees of friying which generate miriads of toxic mutagenic and procarcinogenjc substances. And if you friy most important: throw away the oil after the 1st! frying (even the virgin, throw it away too just after the 1st frying; never use it again for another frying round. That’s especially dangerous!

    • Sorry I did a “finger mistake” writing on the phone:
      Drinking 2 glasses of wine (only 1 if women) leads to lower TOTAL mortality than drinking zero and also to LOWER ! mortality (not HIGHER as I wrote) than those that drink more than 1-2 glasses per day.
      So, drink just 1 or 2 per day depending on your sex, but DO NOT DRINK MORE THAN THAT!

      • Aha! Here is your correction, you thorough mmonkey 😉 In the wrong comment tho 😛
        But, curious, your parenthesis there seems to suggest you DID mean “higher”. Why otherwise warn to “be careful”, if not going higher than 1-2?


  5. Hello Josh,

    glad to hear of you adopting a 32h “Sabbath” (I think I’ve mentioned I also do this, a few month back here, hehehe :)). However, I’d suggest you revert a few hours to, say, afternoon Wed, so you can get your “break — fast” BEFORE going to bed on Friday.

    Now, you’ll say, “Aha! No, ’cause I’ll be able to enjoy 6-8 hours more of fasting this way.” to which I’d reply “For how long have you been able to sustain this?”, long term I believe you’ll sleep not only less but sleep less well as well. 😀

    No need for anything big though. What do you think of this? Any flaws in my logic?

  6. Fascinating blog! I am most interested in Gustavo’s comments as well and would like to know what kind of diet he recommends in particular to avoid cancer that he said he refuses to succumb to? I understand 1 glass of wine for women but it seems that anything that tastes “good” is going to kill us for the good of the “group.” So nature wants us to breed and die quick. What do you eat olive oil, 2 glasses alcohol, how much protein and from what source ie animal/plant and is our current cultivated fruit far too sweet?

    • Aha, JW. You’ve hit the crux of the matter. Nature has set seductive carrots and dreadful sticks to keep you in line. You can do CR (Carrot Restriction(tm)) and push yourself further into Her watchful eye but, how much self-flagellation can you stand before succumbing? (no pun intended) There are provisions even on that front however.

  7. Hellow JW
    QUICK answer. RDA for protein currently is around 0.8grams/Kg body weight per day. My recomendation is 0.6 unless you are ill or too old.
    Virgin olive oil is excellent. But avoid frying as much as you can (it is tasty, so difficult to avoid). If you fry it is extremely important to discard the used oil EACH time you fry. Frying increases chances of getting cancer and reusuing the oil to fry even much more risk.
    Another issue is total amount of fat. In animal rat experiments going dow from 8 to 4% fat in diet decresses cancer.
    The first thing is to avoid too much fat in the diet (especially ig you do a sedentary life).And then it is secondary the type of fat.
    I mean take care with “fashion about olive oil”. It is among the best oils. But this does not mean that eating a lot of it is good for you (it is not) . Too rich in fat diets should be avoided. Once you decide how much fat total you take, then choosing olive oil is a good idea.
    (Virgin) Olive oil is THE ONLY oil worldwide that is obtained directly as JUICE from the “olives” without any refining lab. process needed. Analogous to orange juice (from “oranges” in this case). So pretty natural and good gor you (I do not refer “to the group”.
    Concerning sources of protein red meat is not nice. Vegetal is nice but some essential aminoacids are low in many sources of veg. Protein. Among the best ones I know are LEGUMES (lentilles, garden peas, “garbanzos”, “habas:….In addition they are low in methionine which, as well as insulin, is A MAIN SIGNAL to the Aging Program of the cell nucleus so that it reacts making you age faster.
    Therefore if some days, instead of a staeke of meat, you take a plate of well cooked legumes, it would surely be good for you.
    Only problem with legumes is flatulence…

    • Thank you Gustavo I very much appreciate this info and it sounds like a Blue Zone type diet which I am moving towards. I have come from a LCHF place as I was a former obese pre-diabetic and found lowering carbs helped with hunger as my body desperately wants it’s fat back 🙂 for the Group you know, however I’m feeling more alarmed with the high fat/high meat eating LC groups. LCers are eating so much lard/butter/cream, fatty meats, bacon hacks (bacon only for 30 days) and ZC (meat and water with raw meat being the optimum) and boasting of excellent health and markers and it just feels intricately so wrong. (Plus seeing some of the cruelty to animals and pigs in particular in some of vegan videos is quite disturbing). We have been frightened off eating legumes and potatoes (starch carbs >insulin) so advice eat more fat to flatten out insulin spikes….more fat to quench hunger and so on. Yet all the studies show the healthiest groups eat lentils/taters/occasional meat/plants.

      I have started to incorporate purple potatoes and my BS are perfect and I am told that damage is being done inside because I probably have high insulin levels driving the blood sugars low. They argue that fruit goes straight to the liver in the form of fat and increase blood sugars (the latter is true for me as fruit does raise my BG postprand). Now fasting has become the huge big thing, the longer one can fast the better and for some people it ends up in a binge and I doubt it’s broccoli they are bingeing on. I had difficulty fasting but I find time TRF much more pleasant and sleep is better than fasting. It’s crazy out there!

      On the other hand the vegan doctors (Barnard, Campbell, Esselyn, Macdougall) look so gaunt; as if they would break like a twig and in fact Macdougall did have a serious fall in his bathroom which he wrote about. Anyway it’s refreshing to find this blog and I am very grateful thank you.

    • To JW
      Concerning carbohydrates there is debate.Insulin spikes are surely bad. The tell the cell nucleus program to accelerate aging. The stsndard approach was to recommend COMPLEX carbs (slowly digested and absorbed do insulin peak postpandrial is more flat). And surely avoid simple carbs for their generation of tall insulin peaks. So cone, regresments with dissolved sugars etc. are surely bad also for children! The problem is that trends are changing considering rice potatos bread etc. less “complex” than previously thought and many people like Josh also avoid these. The problem with this is that diets must sum up 100%. So if you take small amounts of fats and protein most of your diet should be based on (complex) carbs. But people that want to avoid all carbs the go to 45% fat which few would think healthy for sedentary people….So ?
      What is best know is that healthy diets should hava most fruits an vegetables. But many of these are most rich in carbs ??
      Ask Josh for this. I think he is an expert in what vegetables to eat that avoid insulin spikes.

    • His references to the potato hack are interesting as well. I wonder if the 5 day PH would be a viable alternative to Longo’s Fast Mimicking Diet? The Spudfit guy who is eating potatoes for a year seems to be doing well so 5 days would be a cinch, but again I would worry about the insulin.

      • My guess is that potatoes are so low in protein that there would not be an insulin spike on a potato diet, especially if you keep calorie count down. If you try it, please let us know what your experience.
        – JJM

        • I have organic purple potatoes growing as an experiment (I have no green thumbs and was astounded these plants are thriving); as soon as they harvest I will attempt. Have since been reading many potato hack posts on Marks Daily Apple and Tim Steele (VegiePharma) and it is better to cook-cool-eat cold or reheat which >resistant starch >SCFA. No fat though whatsoever, plain taters!

  8. Are they really holding up the “Anti-Aging Drugs” book with your chapter in it until February of next year? Are they aware that we no longer produce books by manually marking clay tablets?

  9. Excellent diet, sir. Not wanting to resemble a black cloud on the horizon, might I still suggest losing the microwave oven, simply for the reason of removing more radiation sources from our cancer prone bodies. Something easy to substitute for, anyway. Best, Matt

  10. Hi Josh,

    I am curious how you define low-carb – is that 100 grams a day? I don’t expect that you would be counting, just curious about ballpark. I find much beyond that, paired with fat above 15% of diet, leads to fat on the body!

    Legumes are the basis of my diet as well. We have emphasis Chana Dal due to it’s remarkably low GI ( and high fibre, but the other top beans we rotate:

    Name/Carbs/Fiber/Protein per 50g dry
    Flageolet 34 22 12 10
    Lentils 32 19 13 11
    Cannellini 30 17 13 11
    Chana 31 17 14 11

    Brown lentils have slightly lower protein than green.

  11. Follow the basic premise of the Zone diet, but adjust as needed. Some people are more carb-sensitive so you may have to reduce the carbs slightly. If you lack energy, increase the carbs a little.

    • Low carb (without! Distinguishing complex and simple carbs!) plus low protein (ok until 0.8 g protein/kg per day…OMS RECOMMENDATION and lowers mitROS production through low methionine signaling…I demonstrated this worldwide)…necessarily means HIGH FAT diet (40% Longo diet) Wrong for SURE!

      YOU AMERICANS ALWAYS DOING BIG MISTAKES: cigarretes, saturated cholesterol inducing fats, Cocacola (etc sugar increasing INSULIN NO DOUBT BIG MISTAKE), PARACETAMOL(bad) instead of aspirin (no bad)…etc
      True that AFTERWARDS, after many years of mistake-inducing in the WEST (under your rule) yourecognize your mistakes and you Correct yourselves (OK)…
      But only AFTER millions have died due to your erroneous imposed recommendations…
      You will never learn how to behave properly as rulers in the West?
      I know why you always fall in error.
      BECAUSE you only believe in GOLD (the devil of this world…Gounod’s…Faust).
      I cite Le Petit Prince:
      “L’important cest invisible pour les yeaux”

    • PROF. Mitteldorf,
      -1) Experiments in rats have demonstrated that decreasing fat content of AIN93 diet from 8% to 4% further decreases cancer cases. And you risk counseling your co-USA citizens that they ingest 40 % (and mainly saturated) fat diet? That will surely enough further decrease life expectancy at USA, which is already around 5-7 years shorter than the one in Spain (Europe). How do you dare to recommend such devilish nonsense you a Physic man (without any studies at all on Nutrition!). What does it matter to USA citizens what you PERSONALLY eat?

      -2) On the blog that you have closed so precipitously (why?) I have explained long why epidemiology on humans is NOT hard science and it is subjected to strong manipulation by lobbies with economic interests….same as the cheting by pharmaceutical companies abusing very good free social security systems as the Spanish one and abusing cancer patients with many chemotherapies that they know well that do not work at all…
      -3) Omega-3 (fish oil) history is among the strongest frauds in all nutrition history. Short lived animals like rats have a lot of 22:6n-3 on their cellular membranes while long-lived animals like humans have very little (because such highly unsaturated fat oxidizes very quickly, which damages the cellular membranes (including the mitochondrial ones…) and generates toxic lipid peroxidation products including potent bifunctional carcinogens like MDA or HNEnal that go to the cell nucleus and damage the DNA and chromosomes!
      -) Eskimos eat a lot of fish oils and are more or less healthy. But esquimos are mutants for delta-5 desaturase enzyme while you, white irish americans are not!
      -) USa citizens do not listen to ignorants on nutrition without academic calification.
      Spain is a mid sized western country very week in Science. But is among number 1 countries on the field of Nutrition Science! If you want to hear the best science nutrition founded opinion, listen not to me (only Professor of Physiology). Listen to Spanish Professors of Nutrition from Spanish Faculties of Pharmacy. You will difficulty find a single one recimmending a nln-sense 40% fat diet for humans! They are among the best specialists worldwide. Much better that USA ones….and of course even much better than J Mitteldorf a BD Md PhD in Phisics!!! who knows nothing about nutrition and dares to support highly damaging diets! (Incredibly non-sense to me). JM knows a lot about Evolution of Aging (the “why” does aging exists) but he demonstrates with his advice to be an absolute ignorant “osado” concerning Nutrition!

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